A Summer Coffeehouse Recital

Last night my studio had our final Summer performance for the first time at a coffeehouse!

(My summer session only ran from the last week of May through July 18 this year because the last two weeks of July I’m away at NCKP and Joy Morin’s Piano Teacher Retreat.)

Summer lessons are optional in my studio and while most years I have around 70% of my students still take summer lessons, this year was a lot less.

(That was OK with me though, because I was planning on taking a Sabbatical Summer but since our house was not finished, I decided to continue to teach but really needed a lighter load – both for a little breather, and to have time to work on the house.)

I had fourteen students taking lessons but four of them were siblings that I did as a group class. Six students played in our summer recital.

Most years, when I have a lot more students, I’ve done an outdoor picnic which has always been great. With a lot fewer students performing, I wanted a small but still unique setting.

I was able to rent out a local coffee shop for $30 for the evening and we did a dessert and coffee carry-in.

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Friday Finds #140

Here’s my weekly round-up of all good things from around the web one music teacher to another. Up this week: an amazing new course, a fun house-keeping experiment, tacos and more!



Calling all taco lovers – Netflix just released a new series “Taco Chronicles!” (It’s in Spanish with English subtitles.)



A man was swept over the largest waterfall at Niagara Falls, police say. He survived. (Wow!)



Have you been thinking about purchasing an AirTurn Bluetooth pedal? Now is the time! I use the AirTurn PedPRO and absolutely love it. They just announced that due to recent tariffs, the price will be going up as of August 1. Now is the time to buy!



Diver Swims Alongside a Jellyfish That’s as Big as a Human.  (Incredible!)



Tim Topham launched his newest project this past Monday called  Music Teacher Startup.

I seriously wish I had this course three years ago…

Affiliate Disclosure:  Please note that Piano Pantry is an affiliate for this program. All this means is that if you purchase the course via links from me, it allows me to make a small percentage at no extra cost to you.



Here Are 8 Shelf-Stable Pantry Items to Always Have on Hand



This is kind of a fun little experiment! I sooo would totally try this myself sometime. LOL.

I Kept Up with a 1950s Cleaning Schedule for a Week — And I’m Exhausted Now



Any James Taylor fans? Yo-Yo Ma fans? Then you’ll enjoy this!


Friday Finds from this time in Piano Pantry history:

July 21, 2017 – Friday  Finds: Pack ‘n Roll, Peaches, and Politicians

July 15, 2016 – Friday Finds


Friday Finds #139

Here’s my weekly round-up of all good things from one music teacher to another. Up this week: Homemade Root Beer, Steinway’s Secret Vault, a Fun List of Books to Read for Each Year of Your Life, and more!



What’s inside Steinway’s Secret Vault? Oh my, this is too exciting. I want to see, don’t you?!



From the Washington Post: A list of the best books to read at every age. One book for each year of your life. What a fun idea!

It makes me want to go “aw…” when I see books like “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein and “Ramona the Pest” by Beverly Cleary. 🙂

I think it would be fun to start at the beginning and even read all the kids books! That’s now on my Summer bucket list!



I’m not even a sports fan, and I was excited to hear about the win for the US Women’s Soccer Team against the Netherlands at the World Cup. (Notice I said I was excited to “hear” about it. Yeah, that means I didn’t actually watch it. I’m terrible, I know!)



The Result of Saying “Yes” to My Family from piano teacher Tracy Selle.



Someone, please make this Homemade Root Beer for me right now. I still have one more week before my kitchen countertops are installed. Time is ticking!





Ready to update your professional headshots? Here’s a unique idea…



The cutest little greenhouses ever. I can’t wait to have a garden again!



Humongous Horns: Texas Longhorn From Alabama Sets Guinness World Record. 

Yeah, yeah, super cool and crazy, but honestly, I just like the look of the word “Humongous!”



Two Dozen Piano Teaching Blogs That Have Transformed my Teaching from Heidi’s Piano Studio.


Friday Finds #138

As I began to write this post, I thought “I’ll have to do a 4th of July Friday Finds here in a couple of weeks.”

Then I looked at my calendar…

For real?! Independence Day is NEXT WEEK!


Something is happening today, that I just have to tell you about. It has absolutely nothing to do with piano but it kind of has something to do with food…

We’re finally getting our kitchen cabinets installed!! 6 months. 6 months is how long we’ve been living with just a small convection oven, single induction cooktop, and microwave all sitting on two folding tables. I am SO OVER it.

Photos coming soon!



After scouring my files, I realized there aren’t a lot of 4th of July-themed materials I use in my studio. There are a few Summer-themed worksheets I’ve used from time to time. They’re all from Susan Paradis, of course!

4th of July Composing Activity
Summer Treat Fun Sheet for Beginners
Strawberry Notes
Snow Cone Signs and Symbols
Our Buggy Friends: A Note Story



Sara Campbell has compiled a list of free-downloadable Patriotic Music.



I finally got around to taking the Enneagram. After listening to this episode on the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, I coined myself a 1 or 3.

A friend recommended the test at the Enneagram Institute. For $12 it’s better than some of the free ones out there but not as expensive as others available.

My suspicions were confirmed. My highest score was a tie between Type 3 and Type 1. My second highest score was a tie between Type 2, 8, and 9.

What’s your number?



You Should Pour Vinegar into Your Washing Machine – Here’s Why 

We just got a brand new Speed Queen set (which, BTW, I totally recommend) so I won’t need to do this for a while, but it makes complete sense!



Fear of Kohlrabi | Seth Godin



What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane

This is a long read, but quite fascinating. I’ll admit I ended up skipping the final 30% of the article or so, but it’s worth the read.



A 10-Year Old Just Climbed a 3,000-foot Nose route on Yosemite’s El Capitan. Impressive!



Reindeer Yoga? Really Alaska? LOL.



Homemade strawberry milk. Yummo.


Have a lovely holiday next week everyone! Eat lots of hamburgs (as my grandma would call them) and all things that scream “Summer Food.” Your belly and your soul will thank you.


Evernote for Gmail: A Review

In April 2019, Evernote came out with a new add-on, “Evernote for Gmail.”

If you’re not sure what an add-on (extension/plug-in) is, it’s simply an extra little program that extends the functionality of whatever program you’re using whether it’s your internet browser, WordPress site, or email client.

You are likely most familiar with add-ons in your internet browser. As you can see in this small screen-shot, in the Google Chrome browser, add-ons are viewable to the right of the URL bar.

Today I wanted to share with you a few thoughts on whether or not Evernote for Gmail is a useful tool.

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Friday Finds #137



Four Essential Piano Teaching Tools Everyone Needs in Their Studio

Agreed, Tim! They’re so simple but the absolute basics.



While we’re talking about the very basics things you might need to teach piano, you might check out my “minimalist’s list” list of piano teacher must-haves.



Understanding Piano Parents: What Minor League Baseball Taught Me

If you’re not already following Rebekah Maxner, add her to your list. Every article I’ve come across of hers on piano teacher groups has been well-written and insightful.

Here’s another excellent one I just read while browsing her site:

‘Quitting’ piano: 7 options for teachers, students, and parents



I finally added Rebekah’s website, Rebekah.maxner.ca to my Feedly account. Find out why I think RSS reader’s like Feedly are the best way to follow your favorite websites in this post: Managing Content the Easy Way.



A couple of items to help you through your summer:

Simplify Summer | Becoming Minimalist

Grasping for Summer Routine | The Lazy Genius Podcast



I’m dying to make these recipes::

Chickpea Ceasar Salad

1-Bowl Peanut Butter Protein Pancakes

Easy, Crispy Baja Fish Tacos

Fresh Lemonade



Some posts that focus on Instagram for Piano Teachers:

Instagram for Independent Music Teachers: The #1 Reason You Should Be There

Is Instagram for Piano Teachers? Yes, here’s why! (On Using Hashtags)

How piano teachers can leverage Instagram

Instagram for Piano Teachers: 5 Fun Accounts to Follow


Instagram for Piano Teachers

5 Fun Accounts to Follow

This is a post I’ve been excited to write for a long time. I don’t know why exactly.  I think it’s just because it’s a fun and light post that doesn’t require any of us to revamp our piano-teaching or extend our to-do list. LOL.

If you’re not already on Instagram, you might want to check out this post first on the #1 Reason Why You Should Be On Instagram as in Independent Music Teacher.

Whether you’re just creating your Instagram account for the first time, or if you’ve been on there since the day it launched in 2010, there are five Instagram accounts I’ve really enjoyed recently you might want to consider following if you’re not already.

Before I give you my list, I wanted to let you know exactly what I was looking for in this particular list.


The Criterion

While there are a TON of piano teachers, bloggers, etc. on Instagram, this post is focused on accounts that spark a little “fun” in the piano studio world.

They can include a little (but not too much) of:

  • Marketing for their website or product.
  • Videos of their own playing or their students playing.

They should include:

  • Student / studio-related photos (but not too many).
  • A few personal photos – keep yourself real and relatable!
  • A lot of fun, beautiful piano-related eye candy.

In other words, I was looking for accounts that balanced life and studio, that didn’t seem focused on marketing their self or products, and that included a lot of piano beauty, fun, and even humor.

Here’s are my recommendations in no particular order. (Except the last one which is definitely my favorite!)

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Instagram for Independent Music Teachers

The #1 Reason You Should Be There

With so many social media apps out there, many teachers are hesitant to put the time and effort into trying a new platform. Believe it or not, though, Instagram isn’t new – it’s been out for almost 10 years!

As a fellow skeptic, I want to share with you today the biggest reason why any music teacher who is running an independent music studio needs to be on Instagram.

My own personal journey to Instagram is a big part of this story, so let me start there.


Entering Instagram

In July 2015, I opened my account and posted my first photo.

Since it was August, the month for fresh produce and canning (and you all know I love food), I had a little fun posting a lot of food photos.

Then it was pretty much crickets until October 2016 – more than a year later. Eek!


I’m suddenly back in and using Instagram even more than Facebook.


What happened?

Inspiration finally set in from a session I attended earlier that year at the 2016 MTNA Conference in San Antonio. The session was actually put on by a friend and colleague of mine and was called The Varsity Musician’s Playbook.: Commitment-Building Strategies from Team Sports to the Studio.

I was so inspired by her session, that I asked her to write a 3-part series here on Piano Pantry.

Part 1: Studio Interdependence
Part 2: Studio “Locker Room”
Part 3: Community Presence

Part 3 is where the conviction to start using Instagram again set in. Granted, it took me almost 7 months to gear up to start using Instagram again, but once I did, I haven’t looked back and there’s one big reason why.


Student-Studio Connection

Instagram is (one place) where my students go to connect. Every single one of my high school students is on Instagram as well as a few younger students.

Students can see what’s going on in the studio outside of just their lesson. Most of my students go to different schools, so it’s fun for them to see the life of their piano peer’s outside of piano studio life as well as inside our piano studio life.

They can celebrate each other’s achievements and connect with each other outside of group classes. I witness students “loving” (as it goes on Instagram) and commenting on each other’s photos as well as the studio.

I always like to imagine that if I had social media like this growing up, and I saw a photo of a fellow student who has finished a book that I was struggling through, it would have been great motivation to work hard to also complete the book.


My Instagram Focus

Instagram is such an important part of my studio that I try to keep it focused on just that – my studio. Do I share personal things? Of course. Do I share a few Piano Pantry things once in a while? Yep.

If you follow me on Instagram though, you’ll see that I am 95% focused on my students.

Can we use Instagram as a way to market our studios? Absolutely! My mindset, however, is less on “outward” marketing and more “inward” marketing. That is, developing a community within your studio which then seems to radiate outward on its own.

P.S. Just a tip that in order to actually allow outward marketing to also occur, don’t keep your Instagram account private. That is, when you create an account, don’t set it up so people have to “request” to follow you. Let it be a public account anyone can follow. You want the public to see all the wonderful things you do in your studio!


Fun Accounts to Follow

Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to get on the Instagram bandwagon, here are 5 really fun accounts for piano teachers to follow.


Find me on Instagram!

Follow me on Instagram @amystudio88

Hope to see you there!


Friday Finds #136



Add this quote to your next studio newsletter.

“You can’t judge success by the day, the week, the month, or even the year. You have to judge success by the decade.” -Nicholas Cole

from: What 15 Years of Classical Piano Taught Me About Discipline (and Judging Your Own Potential)

(I discovered this article only after it was shared by Benjamin Steinhardt earlier this week on The Art of Piano Pedagogy Facebook group.)



Millennial Music Teachers: 4 Traits They Bring to the Table



Sweetwater is giving away $5,000 of gear any music lover will love in celebration of this year’s Gearfest.



The headphones I wish I had purchased for my keyboards and music lab time 7 years ago.

The AKG K52 has an automatically-adjusting head band that fits nicely to any size head whether it’s a 6-year-old or a 16-year-old. The sound is amazing, and the over-ear, closed-back design helps keep the sound of the other piano student in the room out while students do their music lab. Totally worth the money.



One Way to Think About Talent | Seth Godin



The “Traditional” Teacher (Some Encouraging Words) from Forrest Kinney.


A fun activity for group class: Meter Test – play clips of music to determine if the meter is duple or triple.


As we’re getting our feet wet in Summer: 4 Lessons I Learned From Doing Less.

What I Learned in my 11 months as a Worship Team-Leader

I’ll never forget that day. I was at the 2017 MTNA Conference in Baltimore, Maryland when I got a text from a good friend letting us know that a big announcement would be made at our church that Sunday. It sounded really, really serious.

Since I wouldn’t be there, I called him immediately and was shocked to hear that our Senior Minister, who had been with nearly 30 years, was being let go. (The nitty-gritty of the reason why, of course, is not pertinent to this story, so we’ll skip over those details.)

After hanging up the phone, my next outing at the conference was brunch with my good friend (and author of The Varsity Musician’s Playbook), Christina Whitlock, and Wendy Stevens.  Bless their hearts, they were very sympathetic to my blubbering shock at the information I had just received.

That is one of my life moments I will never forget.

Fast-forward just over a year. It’s now the summer of 2018.

Our church was going through a formal “transition” process with a company called Interim Pastor Ministries. It was a long process, but the results were well worth it in the end.

During this time, a person in our congregation who had been a worship leader in a previous career had been filling in as our worship leader. After a year he was ready to step down, but our church still had not hired a new pastor and wanted to wait until the new pastor came before hiring other staff.

Thus, I was next in line as the most obvious person to ask to lead the worship team.

This is another one of those life-moments where it throws you a complete curveball.

MY plans for 2018-2019 were to vamp up my work here on Piano Pantry, open up a shop, etc. His plans were otherwise, however, and I am so glad I took the fork in the road.


The Job Situation

Since this was a temporary situation and I already had a job playing for a small Lutheran church in our town, the elders wanted to ensure I did not have to quit my job to take on this role. Thus, it was set up that I was the “coordinator” of the team, not necessarily the weekly “up-front” worship leader.

My duties included scheduling the team, choosing music, putting together all the chord charts and sound files, and rehearsing the band and vocalists every Thursday night and Sunday morning. (Plus all the other little things that get wrapped up into it that you can’t really articulate).

On Sunday mornings, I would arrive at our church at 7:00 am to prep, rehearsed the worship team from 8:00-9:15, left to play at the Lutheran Church at 9:30 (while our worship team led the 9:30 service), then came back and attended our 11:00 service with my husband.

Every 6 weeks or so, I would take a week off from the Lutheran Church (I just recorded the music for them on a Yamaha Clavinova) and would lead worship at my church. Otherwise, we had 3-5 team members we rotated as worship leaders from week to week.

It’s been a whirlwind, but the past 11 months has taught me a lot as it’s been a new and unique experience for me. The only other time I’ve been in charge of music in a church was for two summers after I graduated high school. I moved out of my parent’s house and lived with my aunt and uncle so I could lead music at my uncle’s small church. That was 20 years ago though, and things have changed quite a bit!

This week is my last week in this role and I thought it might be nice to share with you some of the things I learned not only so you might glean some tips, but as kind of a final recap for myself mentally.

It’s that whole “putting a period on the end of a sentence” thing in life where you mark the end of one venture before moving onto another.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past year:


1) Appreciate the person who is leading.

Just like a lot of things in life, it’s easy to nit-pick and finds fault if things aren’t exactly the way you would like them. We tend to like things catered to our exact tastes.

There is so much more that goes into the role of worship leader – I had no idea. I learned that I need to appreciate the person who is in that role more and be positive and supportive of that person, even if their “style” or the way they operate things is not exactly the way I would do things.


2) Plan with Planning Center Services

Planning Center is a website for churches focused on managing different areas of the church such as member databases, check-ins for child programs, church event management, and so much more.

One of those areas is Planning Center Services which is designed to organize all things worship-team including team schedules, weekly planning, and file-sharing. We have our own song database, can organize our songs with tags and can see a history of when and how often we’ve done each song. I don’t know what I would have done without it!

Planning Center Services also has a sheet music app called Music Stand that links to your P.C.S. account and syncs your Order of Service playlist so it will create a set list from your service order. The best part is that if you make any updates to the files, it will automatically update in Music Stand as well.

It even has the ability to connect everyone’s iPad on the team to one “session” so one person can turn everyone’s page at the same time. (This feature never worked for us quite the way we wanted but it’s still a cool feature!)

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